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Three New Ways the Koch Brothers Are Screwing America By ELISABETH GARBER-PAUL

The fourth-richest men in America target low-wage workers, minority voters and unions “They are truly cowards in the worst way,” says filmmaker Robert Greenwald, of the notorious billionaires Charles and David Koch. And he should know. After he released his 2012 documentary, “The Koch Brothers Exposed,” Kochfunded organizations took out ads trying to discredit Greenwald and his work, yet the brothers still declined his repeated offers to debate the topics covered in the film, like the re-segregation of schools and the defanging of the EPA. “I wanted to engage in a policy debate,” he says. “But they won’t engage.” For most people, an attack from the fourth-richest (and perhaps most politically conniving) men in America would slow them down. But instead Greenwald, who became interested in the powerful duo when he read Jane Mayer’s 2010 New Yorker profile, decided to double down, and began work on “The Koch Brothers Exposed: 2014 Edition.” The update, which is now available free online, is

centered on their influence in (and outpouring of money since) the Citizens David Koch United Supreme Court decision. While researching and producing it with his small staff at Brave New Films, Greenwald says he was “surprised by not just the sheer numbers, but the extraordinary lengths they go to legally to hide the amounts they’re giving.” Here, three of the fights to which these undocumented millions flow: Suppressing the Minimum Wage Not only do the Koch brothers not want to raise the minimum wage – now a federal $7.25 – they say it creates a “culture of dependency” and would like to see it abolished altogether. “One of the facts I’ve been most struck by is that it would take a full-time minimum-wage earner 76 years to make $1.8 million,” says Greenwald. “Or, about what each Koch brother earns in an hour.” But bottom lines are more important than bottom workers for the Kochs – since the early 1990s, they’ve given at least $23.3 million to think tanks that have published over

4,000 articles, papers, studies, and media projects targeting the minimum wage. Charles Koch “They want to abolish the concept of minimum wage,” Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) said at the film’s D.C. premiere. “So people can work for free.” Breaking Unions “Really, what we would like to see is to take the unions out at the knees, so they don’t have the resources to fight,” says Scott Hagerstrom, the Michigan director of Americans for Prosperity – a group heavily funded by the Kochs – in a damning clip from the film. And it seems to sum up the Kochs’ approach to unions: Americans for Prosperity were integral to the 2011 union-busting fight in Wisconsin, and American Legislative Exchange Council (or ALEC, which works closely with the brothers) has drafted the model anti-union legislation used to slash collective bargaining rights for workers in 36 states. “They do not want to have safety regulations,” says Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, in the film. “They do

not want workers to be able to negotiate wages and benefits.” Disenfranchising Voters During the 2012 election, an organization called True the Vote called itself a “citizen-led effort to ensure free and fair elections.” Their tactic? Placing mostly white “poll-watchers” in polling places, many of them in minority areas, which led to complaints of voter intimidation. The funding came from Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity. What’s worse, ALEC, which counts roughly 20 percent of all state legislators as members, also drafted a model Voter ID bill and used its ranks to disseminate it across the country. Now, 41 states have introduced more than 180 such bills, which could mean that over 21 million people could be denied their most basic right as a citizen. “The reason that you target somebody’s voting rights,” Ben Jealous, the former head of the NAACP, says in the film, “is it makes it easier to take away the rest of their rights. You come for that first, and the whole house of cards starts to fall.”

The Koch Brothers Were Locked and Loaded for This Week's Union-Busting Supreme Court Ruling The grass doesn’t grow under their feet, and not just because it’s all dying in our deregulated business-friendly country anyway. As soon as John Roberts declared the Day of Jubilee in Shelby County, Republican secretaries of state around the country were ready to leap into action with voter-suppression strategies plucked right off the shelves. Those strategies, of course, subsequently have been blessed by a series of 5-4 Supreme Court decisions, including two

of the last ones joined by Anthony Kennedy of Dignified Integritude. Now, in the immediate wake of the Janus ruling, which essentially turns the United States into a right-to-work country, we see a similar phenomenon unfolding, courtesy of the Koch Brothers and their everextending political tentacles. From Bloomberg:

The conservative nonprofit Freedom Foundation said that starting Wednesday, it will deploy 80 people to a trio of West Coast union bastions: California, Oregon and its home state of Washington. The canvassers were hired in March and trained this month, according to internal documents reviewed by Bloomberg News. The goal of the multi-pronged campaign is to shrink union ranks in the

three states by 127,000 members—and to offer an example for similar efforts targeting unions around the country. “Their employer isn’t going to tell them, and the union isn’t going to tell them,” said the anti-union group’s labor policy director, Maxford Nelsen. “So it falls to organizations like the Freedom Foundation to take up that mantle and make sure that public employees are informed of their constitutional rights.” ...Read More

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RI ARA July 22, 2018 E-Newsletter  

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